A jury convicted Juan Jose Sanchez of two counts of fraudulent use or possession of identifying information on Dec. 7, after which the court sentenced Sanchez to two years’ probation.
The 39-year-old Houston man was charged with the crime after cashing two fraudulent checks in 2014. According to Assistant District Attorney Abdul Farukhi, a Fort Bend County couple discovered that someone stole $750 from their checking account by using two false checks in September 2014. Each check was written for $375, dated for August 27, 2014, and was made out to a Juan Jose Sanchez for “gutter repairs.” The victims told authorities they never wrote the two checks and closed their bank account.
Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Detective Ronald Fields combed through the bank records to discover the checks were cashed at Bank of America. Fields reviewed the bank records and surveillance images and identified Sanchez cashing the checks.
At trial, the defense conceded Sanchez cashed the checks, but argued he did not intend to defraud his victims. The victims challenged that position, stating that they had never met Sanchez and never had any gutter repair work done at their home. Furthermore, they testified that the check numbers they were using at the time were several hundred ahead of the much older check series Sanchez used.
Fields also testified that the check numbers on the fraudulent checks were out of sequence, that Sanchez waited a day between cashing the checks, and went to two different bank branches to cash them.
In closing arguments, the state highlighted the suspicious nature of the checks and the circumstances surrounding the way they were cashed. After an evening of deliberations, the jury agreed and rendered a guilty verdict on both indictments.
“I’m proud of the jury for following the law, weighing the evidence presented, and for not following the innuendo and rabbit trails offered by the defense,” said Farukhi, lead prosecutor on the case.
Sanchez was tried in the 268th District Court before presiding Judge Brady G. Elliott. Fraudulent use or possession of identifying information in this case is a state jail felony punishable by 180 days to two years in a state jail facility and a fine up to $10,000. During his probation, Sanchez must serve 60 days in jail and pay a $1,000 fine plus court costs. Assistant District Attorneys Farukhi and Brandon Marc Draper prosecuted the case. Attorneys Lori Botello and Marcia Edwards represented the defendant.